A Calendar of Tales: February

“Met a girl on beach, searching for her grandma’s pendant, lost 50 years ago. I had it, found previous Feb.”

The waves were choppy today, a portent of the coming storm, but the sun was out and the black basalt beach was warm. I sat on a rock and watched the water come in, singing softly to myself as I watched the ships approach from the distance. My fingers caressed the golden pendant on its long chain.

I’d worn the pendant, with its little embossed scene of the three-masted ship, since I had found it on this same beach the year before. The glint of gold had called to me like a beacon, washed free after a hurricane. I’d strung it up on a chain from my collection and wore it always. I liked the way it nestled between my breasts as I swam. It reminded me of the man I’d loved, and distant dreams long past.

I was there, warming myself on the quiet beach and singing softly of my lost lover’s eyes, when a slim girl, perhaps barely a teenager, came sliding over the rocks.

My beach is quite isolated; most people fear the sharp, treacherous rocks between the shore and the sea. That was why I liked it. But here was this girl, her brilliant blue galoshes unhelpful in the climb, persevering toward the black shore. She made it over, and skidded on her rear into the sand with a WHOMPH. But she seemed unhurt, so I watched her from my perch.

She stood, brushed herself off, and walked in the shallows, boots splashing and slurping in the mud. She didn’t seem to notice me; her head was down, intent on the sand beneath her feet. She was methodical, swishing the wet sand with every step.

I waited for her to grow closer before calling out—I didn’t want to startle her. “Are you looking for something?” I asked.

She looked up and saw me for the first time. Her mouth went slightly slack, but she recovered gracefully. “I’m looking for something lost,” she said.

“Oh?” I asked. I swished my tail lightly in the foam. “Is it something I can help you with?”

The girl watched my tail in stark fascination. “It’s—um,” she looked up, away from the water, and seemed to refocus on my face. I tried not to smile. “I’m looking for a necklace. My grandmother lost it on this beach, a long time ago, when she was a girl, and it’s almost her birthday and I didn’t know what to get her so I thought maybe I might find it…”

“It’s true,” I say sweetly. “The ocean gives as much as it takes. It’s kind of you to look for it. I come here often. Perhaps I’ve seen it. Do you know what it looked like?”

The girl stared at me with eyes as grey as the sea. “I don’t mean to be rude, but… are you real?”

I smiled, again fingering the long chain absently. “I’m real enough dear.”

She took a step closer. “Hey!” she said, “that necklace. Where did you get it?”

“This?” I asked, pulling the chain over my head and letting the pendant dangle in the sunlight. “I found it, here, a year ago. Isn’t it pretty?”

“Does it have a ship on it, an old one like in the pirate movies?” the girl asked, coming another step nearer.

“I don’t know about these pirate movies, but it does have a ship,” I said, staring down at the beautiful little scene. “It reminds me of someone I used to know.”

“Ma’am,” the girl said, hesitantly. “May I see it?”

“You’ll have to come closer, love,” I said, smiling now so she could see my pointed teeth.

The girl pulled back, wary, but then stepped forward until she was standing just below my rock, reaching for the pendant. Capriciously, I let it drop into her hands, but held the long chain intertwined in my hand.

“Ma’am, I think this might be my grandmother’s necklace,” the girl said. “Please, may I have it? It was given to her by her father, and lost more than 50 years. It was the last thing he gave her before his ship was lost. It means the world to her.”

“Her father?” I flicked my tail in interest.

After a moment’s thought, I let the chain fall. “Take it. Tell her to be more careful with her treasures in the future.” The girl nodded and clutched the pendant to her chest.

I pushed off the warm rock and leapt into the cool embrace of the ocean, glad, at least, to have met my great-granddaughter. Perhaps the sea would call to her someday, too.

Read the rest of the calendar tales.

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